The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) partnered with California law enforcement to shut down major cartel-tied illegal marijuana grow operations in Southern California on Tuesday.
Federal involvement in the fight against dangerous illegal grow operations follows a request by Republican congressmen Jay Obernolte of Big Bear Lake and Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking that the federal government take action to address the growing crisis and prosecute illegal growers to the fullest extent of the law.
More than 500 local state, and federal personnel were involved in the major bust in the Antelope Valley.
More than 200 warrants were served. Similar illegal marijuana grow operations are spread across California’s 8th District, with a particularly high concentration in the Morongo Basin and Lucerne Valley.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has 850 potential grow sites under investigation.
“These illegal grow operations are stealing water resources, damaging the environment, and subjecting communities across California’s 8th District to intimidation and violence,” said Rep. Obernolte.
“In San Bernardino County, it would take our Sheriff’s Department three years to investigate all the county’s suspected grow sites. We need support from the federal government and urgent changes to California’s handling of illegal marijuana cultivation to address this crisis, and today’s raid in Antelope Valley was a commendable first step in that partnership.”
Campaign against illegal marijuana farms
Recent encounters: The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department recently released public information on illegal marijuana grows outlining the dangers grow sites pose to both public safety and the environment.
Shots fired: Over the past two weeks, the department has had two incidents where suspects at grow locations fired weapons at patrol deputies who were responding to nearby calls for service. The subjects at these locations are also intimidating residents by brandishing firearms and impeding access to the areas.
Water usage: Illegal marijuana grows additionally consume between 11.4 million and 36.3 million liters of water daily across California, contributing to water depletion as the state heads into what could be the worst drought in state history.
Pesticides: Chemical pesticides used at illegal grow sites can be deadly if ingested by children and adults and endanger local wildlife.